Maybe it’s trying to prepare ourselves mentally for the looming back-to-school deadline that’s got pillowy, pocketed, self-contained meals on our minds. Here are three local finds that are so easy to eat on the way out the door or toss into a lunch sack that we’re thinking of ordering extras for our doggie bag.
204 E. First Ave., Mesa
(480) 969-1343 or RepublicaEmpanada.com
This brand-new bistro with trendy, mid-century architecture offers appetizers, salads and some yummy-looking platters, but its specialty is South American-style empanadas. The savory, wheat-flour pockets (less than $3 each) come stuffed with everything from albacore tuna and achiote potatoes to spicy buffalo chicken and Gorgonzola cheese. Sweet empanadas (up to $3.25) come in combinations from fig, cheese and caramel to Nutella and banana — and can be dressed up with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce for an additional charge. We’re eyeing the Cubana ($2.95) — slow-roasted pork, ham, mozzarella and dill pickle — for lunch, followed by the classic Latin American Guava and Cheese ($3) flavor combo for dessert.
Cornish Pasty Company
1941 W. Guadalupe Road, Mesa (480) 838-3586
960 W. University Drive, Tempe, (480) 894-6261
England’s version of the calzone, but with a pie-like crust, the pasty (pronounced pass-tee) comes in varieties from the traditional to anything but at these local eateries. Take as evidence The Oggie ($8.50) with the classic combo of steak, potatoes, onion and rutabaga — and contrast that with The Royale with Cheese’s ($9) hamburger, French fries, grilled onions, mushrooms, bacon, cheddar and Swiss cheese, with a side of ranch, 1000 Island dressing, ketchup or barbecue sauce.
Italian, Mexican, Indian, Cajun and vegetarian-inspired combinations are also on the extensive menu, as well as apple-caramel and peanut-butter-and-jelly dessert pasties ($5). The Oggie also comes part-baked and packaged to prepare at home ($6).
Additional Cornish Pasty Company locations will open soon in Scottsdale and Phoenix.
AZ Food Crafters
961 W. Ray Road, Suite 1, Chandler
(602) 692-4129 or BakedHandPies.com
With the empanada and pasty covered, Eddie Castillo and Mike Caliendo introduced the East Valley in January 2013 to a pocket food that wasn’t so readily available: the hand pie.
The duo sell the half-circle-shaped pastries stuffed with fresh ingredients and baked to a flaky golden brown at farmers markets and a restaurant location in Chandler. You can get them hot to eat right there or frozen to take home.
Breakfast pies include fillings like turkey sausage and egg whites or maple bacon, potato and cheddar scrambled eggs. Lunch and dinner pies run the gamut from spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and feta cheese to green chile pork and Italian sausage and peppers. Pies are $4 for full-size, or $2 for a mini “appetizer” size.
Dessert hand pies are $4 each or $12 for a baker’s dozen of mini hand pies.
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